For a guy quoted in 1993 as saying “The Internet? We’re not interested in it,” Bill Gates certainly had a major change of heart by May 26, 1995, when he sent a memo titled “The Internet Tidal Wave” to his executive staff and direct reports. You can read this full memo in its entirety as part of the Justice Department evidence in the Microsoft antitrust case—or you can read our favorite lines from this historic gem:
- “Perhaps you have already seen memos from me or others here about the importance of the Internet. I have gone through several stages of increasing my views of its importance. Now I assign the Internet the highest level of importance. In this memo I want to make clear that our focus on the Internet is crucial to every part of our business. The Internet is the most important single development to come along since the IBM PC was introduced in 1981. It is even more important than the arrival of the graphical user interface (GUI).”
- “Various extensions to HTML, including content enhancements like tables, and functionality enhancements like secure transactions, will be widely adopted in the near future. There will also be enhanced 3D presentations providing for virtual reality type shopping and socialization.”
- “I encourage everyone on the executive staff and their direct reports to use the Internet.”
- “Even the CD-ROM business will be dramatically affected by the Internet.”
- “One scary possibility being discussed by Internet fans is whether they should get together and create something far less expensive than a PC which is powerful enough for Web browsing. This new platform would optimize for the datatypes on the Web.”
- “We must also invest in the Microsoft home page, so it will be clear how to find out about our various products. Today it’s quite random what is on the home page and the quality of information is very low. If you look up speeches by me all you find are a few speeches over a year old. I believe the Internet will become our most important promotional vehicle and paying people to include links to our home pages will be a worthwhile way to spend advertising dollars.”
You get the drift: sage in 1995, sweetly nostalgic in 2018. Perhaps the best part of this artifact? Gates’ list of cool links to check out, which included The Lycos Home Page, Yahoo, the RealAudio Homepage, and HotWired.